Lazzi specializes in the use of masks in the theatre. The mask introduces a new language into the communication between players and audience that is entirely its own. Lazzi is interested in the way this communication takes shape and in the power of expression that lies within the mask.

Masks in the theatre

Nowadays the world of theatre is characterized by a strong aversion to the use of masks. Studio Lazzi has noted that masks are only used in traditional roles these days.
Lazzi is always looking for new and different ways of presenting masks on stage. The masks designed for theatre company SULT were abstract. The shape of castles, cathedrals and squares has greatly influenced their design. The lay-out of the sites where the performances were to take place, was copied in the masks. The effect on the audience was one of estrangement.
Lazzi is currently developing a play that involves the projection of masks and the effect a mask will have on the audience when it changes in expression during the play.
Lazzi is also working on a series of masks made out of felt. The quest for new shapes and materials operates as the mask studio’s mainspring.

masker fotomasker foto : L. Meijermasker foto: B. Klaassen

The mask in old times

The history of the mask runs parallel to the development of the theatre in the western world. In ancient Greece, theatre was an important and prominent part of its culture. The Greeks used burlesque masks to portray a connection between immortal deities and mortal men. Many centuries later Commedia dell’Arte groups in Italy rediscovered the use of masks. The Commedia dell’Arte is a specific theatrical style that came into being in Italy in the sixteenth century. Unemployed actors tried to earn money by combining their talents and creating a play together. These plays were usually performed in the streets, close to the ordinary citizens. Leather masks were used to emphasize the burlesque and caricature-like nature of their characters. This time around, however, the masks were used to humanize social institutions, such as the character of Pantalone the master, a symbol of power, and Arlechinno the worker and/ or servant.
Masks once again disappeared from the stage when textual plays came into being.

The mask in recent times

At the beginning of the twentieth century the mask made a come-back. In reaction to textual plays a new interest developed in the physical performance of the actor. The neutral mask is now used as an instrument to develop the physical presentation of the actor. Lazzi is trying to design a mould for a perfectly neutral mask. Also, the Commedia dell’Arte masks have made their way back into the spotlights again. Specifically at drama schools and theatre institutions interest in these masks increases. Many drama teachers long to possess their own set of masks.